The Virginia state Senate unanimously passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana on Monday, three days after its companion bill was passed, also unanimously, in the Virginia House of Delegates. The legislation will now go to the desk of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who is expected to sign it because he supports legalizing medical marijuana, as well as decriminalizing recreational possession of the drug.
The Virginia legislation will permit doctors in the state to prescribe cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil for any “diagnosed condition or disease.” Previous legislation permitted use for “intractable epilepsy” only. Supporters hope the bill may also help address the opioid crisis in Virginia, as legal medical marijuana correlates with significantly fewer opioid overdose-related deaths.
“I finally decided that I needed to advocate for the physicians being the decision makers,” said State Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (R-12), a doctor who sponsored the Senate version. “We physicians are the ones that follow the literature and know which treatments are best for different conditions. The literature on medical cannabis is going to be evolving rapidly now, and because of this, it is not a decision that should be in the hands of the legislature. Instead, it should be with physicians.”